A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

So What's Next? - Summer Stock Taking

This blog doesn't seem to follow any discernible logic anyway - things crop up pretty much by themselves. I am coming into a busy period leading up to my holiday (to ensure that I am in a state of collapse before I go away), so it's going to be fairly quiet here for a few weeks, blogwise.

The Grand Plan for the armies is definitely getting there, and there is a shrinking to-do list for painting - I have a unit of Spanish volunteers which it is taking me ages to get around to finish (S-Range Minifigs with a few conversions), 2 units of Spanish irregular lancers (Falcata), 2 units of Portuguese cavalry (Kennington conversions), an odd battalion of French light infantry (possibly 2 of these, though the second one might be Neapolitan lights), a couple of British siege guns, some singly-based British infantry pioneers, and a bunch (maybe 6 or 8) of Spanish general officers. I've been holding off with the generals, to see what happens with the rumoured re-appearance of Falcata, but time is moving on, and there is no news, so I'll get them sorted out and painted up before long.

And then, of course, there's all the damn artillery limbers that need painting. Adoption of Commands & Colors rules has rather reduced my need for limbers, so it's really the completist illness that pushes me to get them done. I have been collecting them for many years, there's a hefty box full of the things - limbers, horses, drivers for the various nations - so it would be a shame not to do them, but there have always been higher priorities. There's some nice old Hinchliffe 20mm equipment in there, too, so they'd better stay on the Plan. OK - keep them in, but later.

There's odds and ends such as replacing that stupid oversize flag I let myself be talked into for the Regiment de Prusse, a cheeky little Qualiticast French command group which I am thinking of painting up as a mini-diorama piece involving King Joseph's coach, a couple of substandard buglers in the British LI that need replacing (creeping elegance again). At that point, I am scratching the bottom of the barrel, no doubt. Except that - well, except that I recently acquired at hardly any cost a great mass of unpainted French infantry - sufficient for 11 or 12 battalions. Now then. I could just do another vanilla French Line Division - my interest in campaigns is always haunted by Charles S Grant's awful warning that you should have figures in the cupboard for all the troops in your campaign, which might be just the sort of feeble excuse I need to add even more troops to a collection which is already stupidly large. Or - just think - I could do a Neapolitan army (ah, but that would get me started on the 1813-14 campaign in Northern Italy - I already have Italians and French, all I would need then would be a few thousand Austrians.... STOP IT).

What I think I'll do is this: I'll put my new unpainted Frenchers in a nice big box and do nothing with them for quite a long time. At least I won't be making any mistakes that way. Which brings to mind Foy's Eleventh Law, the Theoretical Snobbery Paradox:

If you are not doing something, you can afford to be very picky about just what it is you are not doing, and exactly how you would do it if you were.

In many ways this is an extension of The Principle of Enforced Expertise, but it is an excellent, and very useful, law in its own right. As a very specific example which I've seen a bit of recently, it empowers people who do not fight wargames to dictate how everyone else should be doing it, and allows all of us to be very critical of all sorts of things about which we know (if truth be told) naff all. All those who are sick of people who claim to embrace, or represent, or speak for the true spirit of something-or-other, without any evident qualification, credentials or mandate so to do, please put up your hands. Thank you ever so much.

One thing I have been spending some time on, and which will eventually find its way into a post or two, is the revamping of my campaign rules to co-ordinate and dovetail with my CCN battles. I have taken part in, and run, campaigns in the past, and enjoyed them greatly, but am well aware of the challenges they present. Anyway, the main concepts are firming up, there is a wealth of detail to be sorted out, but I am pleased that I have a blend of things which have worked well for me before with ideas that I have improved on, or have shamelessly nicked from elsewhere. I need a campaign system which is capable of being played solo, which makes sense, which covers things like scouting and supply without removing my will to live, and which generates interesting and stimulating combat. That in itself is a fair old shopping list, but I should also add that the game must also allow for off-table resolution of petty incidents which do not warrant a separate game, and some means of integrating sieges nicely into the rest of the action - anything else would give a sad parody of the Peninsular War, would it not? The excellent NapNuts website's campaign material has provided a lot of useful thought, I've also pinched bits from Omega Games' War to the Death (and Rafa Pardo's excellent work with Gamebox maps for it), and from Ray Trochim's campaign system for Battle Cry. I need to have a look at Frank Chadwick's A House Divided next. I always like to take a notebook and some pens on holiday with me - I think I know what I'll be scribbling about this year!


  1. Interesting. I couldn't find the Battlecry campaign system. Where did you come across it?

  2. Sorry Mr Kinch - I meant to include a link for this in the post, but forgot - I've edited the post to fix this now. It looks like a working prototype rather than a widely-adopted add-on, but there's a lot in there. It is heavily slanted toward the ACW (correctly so), so is nothing like suitable for my PW stuff, but it is a good collection of ideas.

    I like location-based movement (otherwise known as 'slide along the slots') - much less fiddly then a complete world of hexes, and gets you away from off-road movement. A House Divided uses very similar mechanisms - Trochim is quite open about using it as a starting point.

    I also like weekly (alternate) moves - you can fit in a multi-day battle without upsetting anything, and a week is a good granularity for sieges. I need more variability in combat group structure and size than the Battle Cry system allows.

    The Omega Games product is the work of Don Alexander, whose book 'Rod of Iron' (about Suchet versus the guerrillas) is one of the most fascinating works on the PW if you can get hold of it. In principle, the game looks like the ultimate campaign manager, since it looks after everything, but for me it's way too complex - a fantastic read for education, but I don't fancy playing it. I'm more a Snakes & Ladders man.



  3. The Omega game is still available from Noble Knight Games I think. Their website is so complicated I have to get someone else to read it for me, but they are useful for oop items.

    I put up my hand like a good chap, but wasnt sure who I was being mean about. You should just have said who you meant. Dont tell me someone has dared express an opinion? ;D

    You havent been reading Battlegames again? The army sounds great - send me some pix. Lou

  4. Herr Crickmeister you are a wicked man. I'm more than happy for people to express opinions - I'm even happy for those opinions to differ from mine - I learn a lot that way. I wasn't really taking a poke at anyone specific, but there are a few blogs and websites out there - especially in the SYW and Ancients areas - which talk a fair amount about the right way to do things, without showing much trace of practical experience. Some guys are just natural leaders and organisers, I guess - those of us who grub around at the bottom of the fish tank and get things wrong sometimes feel unworthy!

    Battlegame is great - I don't read it much, but they are definitely veteran practitioners - in particular I am a fan of Henry's "Fictitious Wars" and "Faltenian Succession" stuff - required reading for anyone attempting campaigns.

    Please don't try to stitch me up again!

  5. This is great. Real time conversation through blog comments, my daughter would be well impressed. Bet I can put up comments faster than you can approve them! Maybe I just phone you and leave Google out of it?

    Well I am none the wiser. Been reading somewhere recently that we should all go back to using Don F's original rules (or were they Tony Baths). Something to be said for that except the reason we all moved on was because the rules didn't work all that well. I thik maybe the guy that wrote this is too young to have been through all that before. So maybe you are rright.

    I cant comment anyway I do very little gaming now. Lou

  6. Foy Eleven - I rest my case. Thank you and good night.

  7. I have that Omega game and also a second one, concerning the Leipzig campaign. Also some other modern ones by them.

    These are campaigns in the theater sense, but there are other levels, with a closer-in time and distance.

    Kip Trexel wrote an Empire Campaign System that breaks down into 24-hour and 4-hour segments, keeping track of hospitals, stragglers, and many such things.

    It would probably not meet your criteria as given, but is neatly integrated to fit the game Empire, which you will remember already had a telescoping time concept for an hour turn and a subhour turnlet, on the field.

    So this takes it a couple levels further, good for maybe a week or two's worth of maneuvering. This might be operational in between the field and the Omega game at the higher level.

    Too much anal roster work for most people, but certainly not to the Bruce Quarrie level.

    It could easily convert to a different way of doing the same thing.

    As for those buglers, I was looking at what I thought were buglers and realized they had telescopes, at least some of them. They look like they could easily be converted to guzzling from wine bottles.